California allows some couples to get a “quickie” divorce using a method called “summary dissolution.” (A regular divorce is referred to as a “dissolution” in California.) The summary dissolution procedure is designed for couples who have not been married for long, and who do not have complicated issues to sort out in the divorce. You must meet certain criteria to use this procedure. But, keep in mind, even if you qualify to use a summary dissolution, you can still choose to go the traditional route. Depending on your situation, a traditional dissolution may offer you advantages that the summary dissolution cannot. If you need help deciding which procedure is best for you, contact our office. We handle both quick divorces (summary dissolutions) and traditional divorces (just a dissolution), and can advise you on the pros and cons for each.
Am I Eligible To Divorce Using a Summary Dissolution?
In a nutshell, you can use a summary dissolution if you and your spouse have been married for 5 years or less, do not have kids together, and don’t have any big assets, like real estate. The exact criteria for summary dissolution is set by law.
You can get a quicker divorce, using summary dissolution, if all of the following statements are true:
- You and your spouse both agree to use a summary dissolution and agree on how to divide your property.
- You or your spouse lived in California for the last 6 months and in Monterey County for the last 3 months.
- You and your spouse have no children under the age of 18 together, and the wife is not pregnant.
- You and your spouse do not have any interest in property anywhere (other than a lease of no more than a year for the property you live in.)
- Together, your community debt is less than $6,000 (not counting car loans).
- The value of all of your community property (other than your cars) is $40,000, or less.
- Neither of you has more than $40,000 worth of separate property (not counting cars).
Are you still interested in a summary dissolution?
If you met the above criteria, you can use the Summary procedure. Your attorney can prepare and file the necessary documents with the court.
Is There A Downside to Filing a Summary Dissolution?
One potential downside to the summary dissolution is that one spouse may be able to back out of the divorce. After your attorney files your divorce paperwork with the court,either spouse can revoke the Summary proceeding anytime during the next 6 months, just by filing a simple form. If that happens, you may have to start over from scratch and file for divorce using the traditional summary procedure. In that case, your divorce would end up taking longer than if you had just filed for a traditional divorce from the start.
The ability of one spouse to revoke the summary dissolution, makes the process more risky. Before deciding to use a summary dissolution, you should carefully consider whether your spouse might change his or her mind in the next six months.
Don’t rush legal decisions. Even if you can use the summary dissolution procedure, make sure that you have plenty of time to make important decisions, negotiate the agreement with your spouse, and file the required paperwork. Divorce is too important to rush, and mistakes made now may be difficult to fix later. In addition, if your spouse may change his or her mind during the next six months, a traditional divorce may be a better option for you.